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Two die in light aircraft collision

Two men have died when their aircraft collided mid-air with another light plane during an air race, organisers said.

A four-seater touring aircraft is believed to have broken up and plummeted into remote woodland after crashing with a sports aircraft at Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight.

The sports aircraft, also carrying two men, suffered damage but limped safely back to Bembridge airport with both its occupants escaping serious injury.

Investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) launched an inquiry into what caused the collision just after 5pm on Saturday evening.

The planes were among 19 aircraft taking part in Saturday's Merlin Trophy races, the precursor for Sunday's main annual Schneider Trophy, which has now been cancelled.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: "Police received the call from a member of the public this evening at 5.08pm to report two light aircraft in collision over the island. One of these aircraft, containing two people, suffered damage and made its way safely to Bembridge airport.

"The other aircraft, also containing two people, came down in a remote wooded area in the Havenstreet area. Both occupants of this second aircraft have now been confirmed dead."

The Schneider Trophy race includes light and vintage aircraft and has been held on the island for a number of years.

Tim Wassell, chairman of the Royal Aero Club Racing and Rally Association, organisers of the Schneider Trophy, said: "There was a mid-air collision just before the finish of the race. Two planes were in collision and both had two men on board. One was a four-seater touring aircraft which, it would appear from witness reports, appears to have broken up mid-air and come down in woodland at Rowlands Woods. The second plane, a sports aircraft, was badly damaged by the collision but limped back to Bembridge Airport. The two occupants from there are safe."

Police were making the area safe and working to formally identify the two victims, a force spokeswoman said.


From Belfast Telegraph